Peake firing escalates new government crisis
The country’s fragile centre-right government is once again teetering on the brink: a major crisis flared up on Thursday when the prime minister fired newly-named Defence Minister Karolína Peake, the head of the LIDEM Party, after just eight days in office. The leadership of the Liberal Democrats in response called on its ministers to quit the cabinet by January 10, threatening the survival of the government.
“She made clear ahead of her naming she would not make any major personnel changes but the opposite was true: steps were prepared in advance and then taken behind my back. These steps were critical in my decision: if [Mrs Peake] thought from the telephone conversation we had that I was just reacting emotionally, and that the whole thing would blow over, she was very mistaken.”
“The prime minister, it appears, made deals behind our backs about personnel at the Defence Ministry but informed none of us. The goal apparently was not to have steady government but a ‘puppet’ minister and a coalition ‘in name’ only. The leadership of LIDEM therefore calls on its ministers to quit the government by January 10.”
Later in the evening on Thursday the leader of the Liberal Democrats repeated she saw no way forward other than for her party to leave the government, sparking increased speculation about the future of the government and whether it would survive or fall if it came to a confidence vote. Lubomír Zaorálek, of the opposition Social Democrats, explained how he saw Thursday’s developments.
“I find it unbelievable today that the prime minister alludes to childish behaviour and infantilism and lies: how is it possible that he pushed so strongly for Mrs Peake to be defence minister originally? He should have been able to defend her as a choice... my feeling is the prime minister is not up to the job.”